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ICONFACTORY IS USING A PATENT TO CRIPPLE PIXEL WINCH

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May 31st, 2014
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  1. //
  2. // ICONFACTORY IS USING A PATENT TO CRIPPLE PIXEL WINCH (THEIR COMPETITOR)
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  4.  
  5. Iconfactory (http://iconfactory.com) are using a patent they own (https://www.google.com/patents/US8194089) to cripple a far smaller competitor called Pixel Winch (http://pixelwinch.com).
  6.  
  7. This is a big deal because Iconfactory have spoken out about patents and were sued by Lodsys for Twitterrific. They should know better. They should know that these tactics are not ok. They should know that bullying a smaller competitor might trigger a public backlash.
  8.  
  9. Most software developers hate software patents with good reason. Iconfactory themselves hate patents.
  10.  
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  13. //
  14.  
  15. Craig Hockenberry from Iconfactory sums it up well:
  16.  
  17. "..this expanded distribution is also putting our business at risk: there are people in this new market who claim a right to a part of our hard work. Either by patent or copyright infringement, developers are finding this new cost of litigation to be onerous.
  18.  
  19. The scary part is that these infringements can happen with any part of our products or websites: things that you’d never imagine being a violation of someone else’s intellectual property. It feels like coding in a mine field."
  20.  
  21. Quoted from:
  22. http://furbo.org/2011/07/13/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-independent-developer/
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  26. //
  27.  
  28. Gedeon Maheux from Iconfactory says designers should get inspiration from others and that he does it a lot.
  29.  
  30. "Go on Dribbble.com and do a search for the kind of icon that you like.. ..get inspiration from other people. It may sound like a cop out, but it’s not really. Everybody gets inspiration from other people. Go on there and find something that inspires or moves you and figure out how to take from that the parts that you like. I’m not saying copy. I’m saying inspire and use that as a jumping off point for your own creations. I do that a lot."
  31.  
  32. "..there’s nothing truly original out there. It’s just you taking parts from other people and mashing them up and putting your own twist and your own spin on it and coming up with something new."
  33.  
  34. Gedeon Maheux, Iconfactory on the My Appventure podcast, episode 30, from 38 mins.
  35. http://www.myappventure.com/2014/03/07/show-030-app-icon-design-gedeon-maheux-from-the-iconfactory/
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  40.  
  41. Gedeon Maheux says "Everybody gets inspiration from other people" and "there’s nothing truly original" and "I do that a lot".
  42.  
  43. Craig Hockenberry says "It feels like coding in a mine field".
  44.  
  45. Good points Gedeon and Craig.
  46.  
  47. //
  48. // THE STORY SO FAR
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  50.  
  51. Craig Hockenberry contacted a new competitor in November of 2013:
  52. @chockenberry: "@pixelwinch How do I contact you via email? We need to talk.."
  53. https://twitter.com/chockenberry/status/397844229453385729
  54.  
  55. @pixelwinch: "@chockenberry I just Direct Messaged you. If that didn’t go through, let me know!"
  56. https://twitter.com/pixelwinch/status/397846052516032512
  57.  
  58. It was probably about licensing the patent, because this appears in Pixel Winch’s about box:
  59. "Pixel Winch uses licensed technology covered by patent us8194089"
  60.  
  61. It looks like Pixel Winch was announced and almost completed in November of 2013, but was then delayed to May 2014 because of this issue. The Pixel Winch developer probably did not know about the patent. Is it possible that the Pixel Winch developer was assisted by seeing what xScope had done before? Maybe. That’s normal and healthy for competition.
  62.  
  63. Craig Hockenberry may have even indirectly helped by publishing lots of details on his blog.
  64.  
  65. http://furbo.org/2012/09/12/retina-for-masochists/
  66.  
  67. Craig states: "Hopefully my trials and tribulations will help you in your own development. The good news is that the beautiful results on the Retina display make all this hard work worthwhile."
  68.  
  69. //
  70. // WHY IS THIS BAD?
  71. //
  72.  
  73. Most software developers hate patents. Most software developers are appalled when Lodsys and other patent trolls come knocking. Most software developers swear they would never own a patent, but if they did they would only ever use it defensively.
  74.  
  75. Iconfactory not only own a patent, but they’ve used it to extort money or delay the release of a competitor who seems to have come up with their own solution independently. Does this mean the Iconfactory know how many copies of Pixel Winch have been sold? Do the terms of the license mean the Pixel Winch developers can not discuss the contract publicly?
  76.  
  77. This behaviour has unfortunately become normal for big companies but is not normal for small companies. It is sad to see someone like Iconfactory stoop to this level.
  78.  
  79. Iconfactory turned up after Pixel Winch was built and asked for money. That is NOT ok.
  80.  
  81. This is patents stifling competition. This is bad for everyone.
  82.  
  83. This is why the patent system is fucked.
  84.  
  85. //
  86. // DISCLAIMERS
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  88.  
  89. The sender of this e-mail has nothing to do with and does not work for Pixel Winch or Iconfactory. Grab screen shots of tweets and pages before the authors have a chance to remove them. Maybe I have gotten this all wrong? Iconfactory should release a public explanation if so because this smells very bad looking at the facts.
  90.  
  91. //
  92. // REFERENCE AND URLS
  93. //
  94.  
  95. http://iconfactory.com
  96. http://pixelwinch.com
  97.  
  98. Iconfactory patent for measuring pixels on a screen:
  99. https://www.google.com/patents/US8194089
  100.  
  101. Lodsys suing Iconfactory:
  102. http://www.fosspatents.com/2011/05/lodsys-sues-7-app-developers-in-eastern.html
  103.  
  104. Craig Hockenberry on patents:
  105. http://furbo.org/2011/07/13/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-independent-developer/
  106. http://www.osnews.com/story/24950/Iconfactory_s_Hockenberry_Patents_Destroying_Small_Developers/
  107.  
  108. Gedeon Maheux on copying:
  109. http://www.myappventure.com/2014/03/07/show-030-app-icon-design-gedeon-maheux-from-the-iconfactory/
  110.  
  111. Tweets:
  112. https://twitter.com/chockenberry/status/397844229453385729
  113. https://twitter.com/pixelwinch/status/397846052516032512
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